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BIOUNCERTAINTY - ERC Starting Grant no. 805498

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Values, Trust, and Decision Making in Public Health

Values, Trust, and Decision Making in Public Health

Research project 'Values, Trust, and Decision Making in Public Health' co-funded by the European Commission and the Polish National Science Centre under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND grant as part of the POLONEZ BIS 1 programme. Principal investigator: Elena Popa

Basic information

  • Project title: Values, Trust, and Decision Making in Public Health
  • Duration: 1st November 2022 - 31st October 2024
  • Principal investigator: Elena Popa (elena.popa@uj.edu.pl)
  • Mentor: Tomasz Żuradzki

Popular description

Questions whether science should be value-free, or whether value influences are inevitable have been an important topic of investigation in the philosophy of science. Values in this sense can be social, political, ethical, or economic. Despite these debates, the question how decisions by scientists can propagate structural injustices and inequality has received little philosophical attention so far. In the context of public health, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this problem into the spotlight. Public health decisions do not affect everyone equally, and can inflict harm on those in precarious economic conditions, through unemployment, diminished access to education or other medical services etc. With the availability of vaccines, the COVID-19 context has highlighted another related issue: that of trust in science. Low levels of trust in science and, more broadly, in institutions have been correlated with lower levels of compliance with recommendations by scientists or the authorities. Explanations of vaccine hesitancy in terms of a crisis of trust further highlight the need to consider justice and equity in order to improve the outcomes of public health decisions.

This project approaches this problem from a philosophical perspective. I will provide two arguments for the incorporation of justice and equity in public health decisions in conditions of uncertainty, and also more broadly, in connection to trust. Another argument will look at questions of evidence: in order to incorporate information about vulnerable or marginalized groups in scientific models, knowledge about the said groups is needed. Thus, more diverse methods and sources of evidence are required, to shed light onto previous blind spots. I will then apply this framework to two cases in public health: vaccine hesitancy and maternal and child health. Regarding the former, I will argue that adopting a framework where values are transparent and justice and equity are prioritized can help address vaccine hesitancy, by increasing trust. Regarding the latter, I will argue against contemporary tendencies of conceptualizing fetal health as the mother’s individual responsibility. As an alternative, I will argue that a framework of values including justice can highlight the need to address environmental degradation and its effects nutrition, as well as the need for further social support for mothers that are disproportionately affected by this. These cases will serve as illustrations of my overall claim that scientists should opt for approaches leading to more equitable outcomes for the people concerned, or, when this is impossible, supplement their recommendations with measures that address resulting inequalities.

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Recent publications

New paper by Elena Popa

New paper by Elena Popa

Elena Popa from INCET published a new article "Values in public health: an argument from trust" in Synthese
Read More o New paper by Elena Popa
New paper co-authored by Elena Popa

New paper co-authored by Elena Popa

Elena Popa from INCET and Jakub Zawiła-Niedźwiecki along with Michał Zabdyr-Jamróz published a new article: “Policy change without ethical analysis? Commentary on the publication of Smajdor” in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics. This paper is a part of the project 'Values, Trust, and Decision Making in Public Health.'
Read More o New paper co-authored by Elena Popa
New paper by Elena Popa

New paper by Elena Popa

Elena Popa published a new article: "Loneliness as Cause" in Topoi. This paper is a part of Values, Trust, and Decision Making in Public Health project.
Read More o New paper by Elena Popa

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  • ‘Mechanisms, Activities, and Biopsychosocial Causation’, Romanian-Polish Workshop in Causation, Understanding, and Knowledge: New Perspectives and Challenges, November 20, 2023, University of Bucharest [invited] (online).

  • ‘Causality, Evidence, and Local Psychiatric Knowledge: A Case for Pluralism’, Sowerby Workshop on Causation and Evidence in Medicine and Public Health, November 2-3, 2023, King's College London, UK.

  • ‘Causality, Evidence, and Local Psychiatric Knowledge: A Case for Pluralism’, Annual Bergen Philosophy of Science Workshop, October 19-20, 2023, University of Bergen, Norway [invited].

  • ‘Metaphysics, Justice, and Global Perspectives on Mental Health’, Mental Health and Normativity: Metaphysics and (in)justice, October 5-6, 2023, University of Granada, Spain.

  • 'Understanding as Perspective Taking in the Context of Artificial Intelligence' (with R. David- Rus), The 9th Biennial Meeting of the European Philosophy of Science Association, 20-23.09.2023, Belgrade, Serbia [poster].
  • ‘Trustworthy Science: Lessons from Feminist Epistemology’The 4th Lisbon International Conference of Philosophy of Science, July 12-15 2023, University of Lisbon, Portugal.
  • ‘Mechanisms, Activities, and Biopsychosocial Causation’Mechanisms and Ontic Causation in Life Sciences, June 15-16 2023, University of Louvain, Belgium.
  • ‘Values in Public Health: An Argument from Trust’10th International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable, June 8-9, 2023, University of Bologna, Italy.
  • ‘Causal Structure, Values, and Variable Choice: Insights from Pragmatism and Feminist Epistemology’Ernst Mach Workshop XI 2023: Causation – Structure, Models and Realism, May 23-24, 2023, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • 'Legitimate Distrust and Values in Public Health’Rethinking Policy, Expertise, and Trust, March 23-25, University College Dublin, Ireland.

  • Interview for the ‘Loneliness and You’ podcast (with Axel Seemann).
  • Models of mental health and illness: philosophical perspectives workshop

    The workshop aims to start a conversation regarding the biomedical, the biopsychosocial, and the humanist model of health and disease and their importance for psychiatry. The topic is important because the biomedical model has been criticized for its narrow focus on biological or biochemical aspects of mental disorders and negelcts social or psychological interventions. At the same time, alternatives like the biopsychosocial and humanist model have been criticized for their vagueness and failure to provide relevant interventions. The goal of introducing this models is not to find a solution to these controversies, but, rather, to identify tensions and points of convergence between these approaches to medicine and how they relate to practice.

    The workshop has been organized in collaboration with the Association of Trainee Psychiatrists from Romania.

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This project is being carried out at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Ethics at Jagiellonian University. Although the Centre is part of the Faculty of Philosophy, and cooperates closely with the Institute of Philosophy, it is an interdisciplinary enterprise: the Centre’s Academic Board includes representatives of several university faculties.  We use an interdisciplinary approach that bridges the gap between philosophical ethics and other disciplines, such as psychology, medicine, legal studies and economics; we utilize “armchair” methods typical for the humanities, as well as social science (conceptual analysis, case studies) and empirical methods (behavioral experiments, corpus analysis, topic modelling). See more information about INCET  

 

 

This research is part of the project No. 2021/43/P/HS1/02997 co-funded by the National Science Centre and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945339.

Acronym: HealthJustice